Australia Post backs down on plans to outlaw food mail

Australia Post backs down on plans to outlaw food mail

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GOOD TRAVELLERS: Mark Toohey of Toohey Farming in north Queensland with avocados he has been sending by post.

GOOD TRAVELLERS: Mark Toohey of Toohey Farming in north Queensland with avocados he has been sending by post.

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Australia Post has been forced backed down on threats to end the shipping of foods through the post.

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Australia Post has been forced backed down on threats to end the shipping of foods through the post.

The postal service threatened to ban the sending of "perishable goods" across the country from June 30.

The move threatened the livelihoods of many farmers and smaller food manufacturers who turned to the mail during the coronavirus pandemic to reach online customers.

"The carriage of perishable food requirements differ by state and include complex requirements on vehicle type (cold or ambient), site and vehicle registration, licence maintenance, staff training and audit requirements," Australia Post reasoned for its decision.

Australia Post will instead set up an industry working group chaired by Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman Bruce Billson "to find solutions".

The decision is a victory for the many food producers who complained about the original decision with thousands of people signing online petitions and winning the attention of farm lobby groups.

Queensland gourmet cheese company, Cheese Therapy, today welcomed the move.

Cheese Therapy co-founder Sam Penny said the decision was a major win for thousands of small businesses, particularly in rural and regional areas, which would have been adversely affected by the draconian ban.

"It is a great first step in our David versus Goliath battle," Mr Penny said.

Toohey Farms in Queensland had warned the unexpected Australia Post move would "kill" its lucrative business built up during the pandemic of sending fruit and vegetables through the mail.

Mostly avocado growers, the Tumoulin farm had successfully moved to online trading and had upgraded equipment and their sheds to make the transition from bulk sales to online orders.

Australia Post said its forum would have representatives from industry bodies, the small business sector and producers "to find possible solutions to the complex regulatory requirements for moving these goods through the delivery network".

Australia Post acting group CEO Rodney Boys said it was a "complex landscape" best approached by working closely with customers, industry bodies and regulators.

"We recognise the original date for ceasing perishable transport through our network would cause significant disruption to small businesses, many who have experienced significant growth in eCommerce sales during COVID-19," Mr Boys said.

"Through this new forum, we will better understand what our customer capabilities and needs are and work hand-in-hand with regulators to determine, where changes may be required.

Australia Post will continue to ship perishable goods as this forum continues to convene, with the first meeting between Australia Post and the Ombudsman next week.

The broader industry group will then meet in May, with a view to hold regular sessions with key regulatory bodies, government agencies and eCommerce experts.

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The story Australia Post backs down on plans to outlaw food mail first appeared on Farm Online.

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